My family was zero waste and frugal at Christmas long before it was fashionable. Our Christmas gift opening happened on Christmas Eve. The Christmas tree went up shortly after Thanksgiving and the wrapped presents started to pile up throughout the month of December.
During the day leading up to Christmas Eve, both my Dad and Mom would prepare a table full of goodies, spiked punch (we were allowed) and a few "healthy" items for some resemblance to a dinner. At 6 p.m. (why it had to be 6 on the dot, I have no idea), we would gather around the tree with five children and two adults to open one present at a time. Everyone would always oh and ah over each one. The evening lasted well into the night.
At the end of the evening, each of us picked a place in the living room to stage our newly unwrapped gifts. During the night Santa would arrive and leave a couple more gifts in our designated area that were unwrapped. This was an item that was a little more special. A Barbie doll (Mom made all of Barbie's clothing) at a young age. Older, it was a knitted scarf or scented lotion.
I know a lot of families rush in to the tree and rip up the wrapping and everyone starts playing with their gifts. But, I think our approach made a very special evening for our family and helped my parents live within a very challenging budget. It felt like we got a lot and I am not talking about just the gifts. Good memories.